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Book Industry Articles: Notable Trends

February 28, 2019

While some companies may be on a fiscal year and are not necessarily “turning the page” yet, I think most of us on an individual level take a moment or two to reflect at the end of the year. I’ve noticed in my own time that the types of reflections I make seem to be different every year as the landscape is ever-changing. Turning the page can be exciting at times, or simply a time to move on.

Looking at the industry we work in, I personally see the start of a new year as an exciting time. There were intriguing successes in 2018 and some of the trends established appear as though they may spill over into 2019. Business is also on the rise! Print book sales are doing very well and there continues to be a rise in the independent bookstore industry.

While we make the transition into 2019, I’ve gathered a few related industry articles that I think represent this time of year well. Hopefully you enjoy the reads as much as I did!


As earlier noted, 2018 was an exciting year in the book industry, which no doubt was made more so by the release of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. This title among others attributed to significant gains in the adult nonfiction category, which is a trend we may see continue in 2019. Also, worth noting is that the number of units of books printed rose by 1.3%. While certain categories are increasing or decreasing year over year, the industry as a whole continues to trend in the right direction.


Print Unit Sales Increased 1.3% in 2018

Article by: Jim Milliot

Original Article:

Unit sales of print books rose 1.3% in 2018 over 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. According to BookScan, which tracks 80% to 85% of print sales, units topped 695 million in the 52-week period ended December 29 compared to 686.9 million in 2017. Print book sales have been trending upward, albeit at a slow pace, since 2013.

The modest 2018 gain was driven by the adult nonfiction segment. Not only did political books pile up big sales last year, but Michelle Obama’s Becoming was 2018’s runaway bestseller, selling 3.4 million copies at outlets that report to BookScan.

A total of five books sold more than 1 million print copies in 2018, all of which were frontlist titles. In 2017, the two top selling books were backlist titles, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

The only other segments that posted unit gains in the year were juvenile nonfiction, where copies sold rose 3.0%, and young adult nonfiction, where units were up 8.5%.

Unit sales of adult fiction fell 4.6% in the year after falling a much more modest 0.7% in 2017 compared to 2016. Juvenile fiction sales dipped 0.9% in the year and young adult fiction sales declined 0.1%.

By format, hardcover was the big winner in 2018, with units up 6.2%. Sales of board books rose 2.3% over 2017, but sales in the other print formats fell in the year.

Physical audiobooks had the steepest drop, with units off 28.9%. Trade paperback unit sales, after rising 1.5% in 2017 over 2016, slipped 0.5% in 2018. Unit sales of mass market paperback dropped 6.1% in 2018, only slightly slower than the 6.4% decline reported in 2017 compared to 2016.



In this article, Robin Cutler from IngramSpark shares her insights on the trends we saw in 2018, but also comments on how those trends may carry forward into 2019. One that I found especially interesting to read about is the downward trend in regard to the number of pages per book. Currently, a good average would be considered about 200 pages or 50,000 words. With today’s society being fast-paced and so much information being constantly shared with us, I can see how this is relatable and why fewer people are likely to consider investing the time needed to complete an 800-page marathon. Equally interesting is the fact that some of those longer books are being divided into a series to keep within close proximity of the ideal page counts.


Self-Publishing Trends 2018-2019

Article by:  Robin Cutler

Original Article:

The beginning of any year presents a unique opportunity to combine reflection with forward thinking, and 2019 is no exception. Whether you’re beginning a new novel, writing a book marketing plan for an existing book, or working on any aspect of your self-publishing journey, now is the time to examine the self-publishing landscape at the conclusion of 2018 and prepare accordingly for 2019. So, what’s ahead for the self-publishing world in 2019? Here are my insights into trending book publishing topics for the New Year:

Political and Social Satire

Expect publishing trends of 2018 featuring political memoirs and humor to continue. At IngramSpark, we saw self-published political satire bubble up and out with social media mentions and retweets in the global marketplace. In my visits to foreign counties in 2018, I was astonished at the amount of media coverage dedicated to American political life. Just note that the life of political books will be closely tied to the political whims of readers and therefore subject to an overnight sea change. To take advantage of political trends in books, it’s important to publish quickly and effectively, one of the core benefits of self-publishing.

Poetry is Popular; Creativity is Entrepreneurial

Who would have thought that poetry as a genre would be at the top of IngramSpark best-seller lists? This is a trend that has been growing for the past few years, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon. Retailers are dusting off their poetry shelves to make room for a new crop of wildly popular poets and artists, who have largely built a fan base through online sites social media platforms such as Instagram. Poet/Artist Robert Drake, with his beautifully illustrated volumes, such as Black Butterfly, has perfected how to appeal to an online readership that clamor for each successive work in his collection. Those readers are finding indie bookstores as well as big box chain stores very supportive of poets and their work, including Pierre Alex Jeanty’s book HER, which has been featured at Target. The growing poetry movement has inspired my own writing and publishing goals for 2019.

Social Movements Continue to Spark Fire

Authentic and conscious discussions surrounding gender, race, class, and age-related issues among other topics, have become more prominent and many authors are capitalizing on their authority to speak to such topics from their actual world experience. We’ve seen several trending hashtags related to social campaigns in support of black identity, and in opposition to gun violence and women’s discrimination. Starting in 2017 and continuing through 2018, we’ve seen a lot more of these topics appearing in recommended reading lists and in review media, and also used proudly in book publicity campaigns. I see authentic and diverse writing gaining even more status in 2019 with many titles claiming top spots on both fiction and nonfiction best-seller lists. Already trending in the early days of 2019 is David Goggins’ inspirational and powerful memoir of his journey from poverty to “strongest man alive” in Can’t Hurt Me.

Shorter is Better

Books aren’t necessarily competing with other books for a reader’s attention. Rather, those eyes are being lured away from reading by other distractions such as gaming and streaming video sites, such as like Netflix. With less time available for reading, it makes sense that readers want to get to the last page quicker. The trend for the past few years has been to publish books with less than 200 pages on average, or around 50,000 words. If you’ve written a colossal masterpiece of 150,000 words, you might consider splitting your big book into a series instead. I now look at the size of a book before I recommend my selection for my monthly book club and will only pick titles under 300 pages.

The Return of Your Local Bookseller

Despite predictions to the contrary that physical bookstores would fall to online retailers, the opposite has been true. The American Bookseller Association reports a 40% increase in store openings in the past decade. And not only are booksellers growing in numbers, but they are thriving in the communities they serve. Many have established educational and publishing programs that assist authors in bringing their books to market. Also, independent bookstores are very supportive of self-published authors if the work has the same quality as traditionally published books. So, in 2019, take time to shop at independent bookstores such as Parnassus Books, Village Books, Eagle Eye Books, and Politics and Prose. To find your local indie bookseller(s), visit IndieBound. Remember that when your book is distributed through IngramSpark, it will automatically be made available to IndieBound!

While it can seem easy to pinpoint book trends as they’re happening, sometimes the trends are revealed in years to come. Every year, we like to report on the trends we see—but sometimes, the wheel isn’t being reinvented. Sometimes, trends continue year after year until they become more of a “norm” and less of a “trend.” We’ll see in 2019 which of these trends have staying power, and which are replaced with the new trends to come.



The rise of the independent bookstore appears to be a global trend! I can personally attest to this from the perspective of the accounts I am working with; many of them shared information with me about new store openings in 2018. Both the number of independent bookstores and sales within independent bookstores are on the rise. In the UK, there had previously been a decline over a 20-year period for independent bookstores whereas last year, there were 15 new ones opened.


Holiday Shoppers Bring Their Dollars and Enthusiasm to Indie Bookstores

Article by:  Robin Cutler

Original Article:

Bookselling This Week reached out to indie booksellers across the country in this first week of 2019, after a lively holiday shopping season spurred by top-selling local and regional titles, a crop of national bestsellers, and a higher recognition of the shop local movement.

Overall book sales across indie bookstores for 2018 increased nearly five percent over 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.5 percent over the past five years. According to ABA’s IndieCommerce team, online holiday shopping from November 1 through December 31, 2018, saw a 21 percent increase in revenue versus the same period in 2017.

Sarah Hollenbeck, co-owner of Chicago’s Women & Children First, said her store had a great sales record in 2018, with a major highlight coming at the end of the year.

“In December, we had our single biggest sales day in the history of the store,” Hollenbeck wrote in a recent e-mail to customers. “Overall, sales were up 5 percent from last year’s holiday season and online orders were up 50 percent. We are so grateful to our community for making 2018 such a success.”

To cap off the end of the year, Books & Whatnot founder Beth Golay created a special “Year in Review” video highlighting photos from all of the store’s notable events and happenings. Women & Children First is already looking forward to next year, Hollenbeck said, when the store will celebrate its 40th anniversary with special promotions, a social media campaign honoring the store’s history, a storytelling event, a birthday party, and more.

Kathleen Millard, general manager at Elm Street Books in New Canaan, Connecticut, told BTW the store’s holiday sales were “up year over year and we basically sold all our overstock.”

“Some books were out of stock at publishers, which made for creative juggling by our talented booksellers to find other titles for holiday gift giving,” said Millard. “When we closed on Christmas Eve, all customers were happy and Elm Street Books had delivered a season filled with awesome books and great customer service.”

“We wrapped and wrapped and wrapped, which is definitely a service our customers value,” she added. “We look forward to 2019 with more great titles and authors to join us in our independent bookstore journey.”

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Let us know what you think! What are your thoughts on these articles and the trends they examine? Do you agree? What other key trends are you anticipating for 2019?


Paul Eccles

Sales Representative

Book Depot


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